Whether you want to use your hard-earned credit card rewards points to pay for an entire vacation, make it through security faster, or simply enhance and upgrade your travel experience, your options for travel perks are virtually unlimited these days. With airlines, credit card companies, and travel booking sites trying to entice additional dollars from your vacation budget, you can easily score deals designed to appeal to the deluxe and decadent desires of travelers. Here are five surprising perks, which only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to travel and tourism tie-ins currently available on the market.
Amex Seat Upgrades and Avios Partnership
Of course, you can use American Express rewards points for any or all parts of your trip. Nothing new there. But now you can upgrade your travel luxury level and in-flight comfort when you use points to place an offer on a seat upgrade for your upcoming flight. Additionally, through airline partnerships, Amex cardholders can get a 40% bonus on Avios when they transfer Membership Rewards® points to AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, and Iberia Plus through October 1, 2019.
Bang for Travel Bucks on a Budget
According to cardratings.com, the cash-back match makes the Discover it® Miles credit card among the top travel rewards cards. Simply put, it doesn’t get much better than three times back per $1 spent during your first year on a card with no annual fee — especially when Discover matches you dollar for dollar. Perfectly built for the budget-minded traveler, this card entitles holders to a ton of value. For example, 35,000 miles earned would net 70,000 miles in rewards when Discover kicks in its portion of the proceeds. Just make sure to rack up mucho miles during that first year for maximum benefit.
Alaska Airlines Sign-Up Bonus
Many savvy domestic U.S. travelers are already involved with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card, which is consistently ranked among the best travel rewards cards on consumer sites. If you aren’t a card holder, now is the time to get on board. The airline is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles simply for signing up for their VISA card. As a part of the offer, passengers with this card also get to take advantage of Alaska’s famous Companion Fare, from just $121 to add a seat to your booking ($99 fare plus taxes and fees that start at $22). The only prerequisite is that you have to pay for $2,000 worth of stuff on the new card in the first three months of opening the account in order to qualify for the extra points bounty.
Chase Sapphire Reserve, a Traveler’s Travel Card
The proprietary perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card are boundless. They also come with a $450 annual fee. However, if you travel for business and leisure at the luxury level, the earned amenities are well worth it. For starters, you automatically receive up to $300 in statement credits annually as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card. Immediately after earning your annual travel credit, you begin earning three times points on international travel, as well as three percent back on dining, and one point for $1 earned on all other purchases Additionally, the card entitles holders to 50% more on travel-related redemption, so when you use rewards points for airfare, hotels, cruises, and car rentals, you get 50% off. For instance, 50,000 points earns $750-worth of travel-related purchases. Before takeoff, you receive a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓. Upon arrival, take advantage of special benefits while staying at the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. It’s no wonder this card was named Best Card for Travel Purchases and Perks by thepointsguy.com.
Global Entry/TSA Precheck Benefits Rewards
TSA Precheck (Pre✓) provides expedited security screening benefits for passengers boarding flights departing from U.S. Airports. Global Entry provides the same domestic benefit as TSA Pre✓, as well as expedited U.S. customs screening for international air travelers. While TSA Pre✓ costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a five-year membership, there are ways to cover the cost with points and perks.
According to creditcards.org, the most direct and expeditious route to savings on the programs is to sign up for one of the following five credit cards, each of which provides up to a $100 credit toward the services: Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard, HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards credit card. Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program. Travelers under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian's consent to participate in the program.